Haggai 2:1-9/ Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21/ Luke 20:27-38
Dead or Alive, God’s Children
Theological school teaches some big theological words. And we use big words to describe God in the Christian Church. We say God is omnipotent and almighty; these are big words. We understand that God is everywhere in spirit and all powerful, being the Creator of the universe and all. There is one particular psalm that sings about the omnipotence and almightiness of God.
Psalm 139 sings, “O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.”
God transcends time, space, and dimensions.
God of the Living
In today’s gospel story, Sadducees, who don’t even believe in resurrection, ask Jesus a stupid question just to trip him up. Now, it was a common practice throughout the ancient Near East that, if a married man dies childless, his brother should take his widow as his wife to produce children and continue the line of the deceased.
Whose wife will the woman be in the afterlife? Jesus explains that in the resurrection, we become like angels, spirits with no corporal bodies. He also explains that, when Moses spoke of the Lord as God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, it means that the dead are alive to God, because God’s kingdom is eternal and so are our souls.
Now, here’s something that is not obvious but we should notice: Jesus uses the words, “marry or are given in marriage.” You might wonder, are they not the same thing? Marrying is the act of men getting married but being given in marriage is about women being handed over as in “they become the properties of their husbands.”
This word choice of Jesus teaches us that, unlike the injustice of our earthly societies, God’s reign is a reign of justice, either in the mortal world or in the spirit world. Jesus reminds us that God wants equality and justice. Compassionate love and justice are the two principles of God’s kingdom.
Do Not Fear, God Is With You
We read about this compassionate and righteous God in Haggai chapter 2. God delivers a message of comfort and hope to the suffering people. “Take courage. I am with you. My spirit abides among you. Do not fear. I will shake the heavens and the earth and all the nations and I will fill this house with splendor and restore it to its former glory.” Of course, the house means the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people. Even though God’s people suffer now, God will change things for the better because God is loving and faithful, and keeps promises.
Why do we praise God? We praise God because, as the psalmist sang in Psalm 145, God is righteous, loving, and is near those who call to God. Because we believe that God is faithful, we can go through difficult times without losing hope.
I can’t even start to imagine what the Korean families who lost their loved ones in the recent disaster are going through. How can they carry on after such a trauma? I only pray and hope that God will heal them and give them strength. I also hope that, as a healing process, they will be able to identify what happened and why, in the hope that things will change in the future for the better.
Dead or Alive, God’s Children
God’s kingdom doesn’t start after death like a lot of Christians think. God’s reign starts here and now in the mortal world. We, who received God’s love and accepted God’s invitation to be God’s children, have the responsibility to spread this reign of love and justice in our earthly communities.
We pray when we are in need, but remember that, as God’s children, we should also become the answers to each others’ prayers. God’s kingdom is eternal; so are our souls and the community of God’s people. Let us acknowledge God’s love and faithfulness and strive to live by God’s kingdom values of compassionate love and justice. May we never forget that we are God’s beloved children, dead or alive, and treat all God’s people and creation like loving family.